It's been just a little over two weeks since StarCraft II's 4.71 re-design, and it's been a tough time for everyone as they learn to adjust to the new balance change. A lot's happened during this time, starting with the beginning of a new ladder season, the hosting and conclusion of HomeStory Cup XVIII, and the official announcement of StarCraft II's return to IEM Katowice 2019, but today is also a day of statistical significance. Why you might ask? Because today marks the end of the first period of post-patch StarCraft II, the first complete sample set of data that we can use for statistical inference.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the folks over at Aligulac, we now have a sample of a little over 3300 pro games to pick apart and determine how each race is performing on a professional level. So without further ado, let's dive into it!
So Who's Currently the Strongest Player?
Well, according to the chart on the left-hand side and the rankings below it, statistically speaking, Maru is still the favorite to win vs. all match-ups. However, it is important to note that this is a little misleading as the statistics gathered on the left-hand chart is based on the rolling average of ALL of Maru's games and not just recent performance, or performance during a specific period in time. In actuality, the argument that Serral is currently the strongest player holds a lot more weight due to his recent results: he has won all four WCS Circuit games over the last year, just won Blizzcon 2018, and just won HomeStory Cup XVIII on November 25, 2018 (the first major tournament post-patch). In other words, while Maru is stronger on paper, that's currently all it is – on paper. In terms of results, Serral is the champ.
Which is Currently the Strongest Race?
On the upper right, you'll see the list of 229. This little infographic shows us a few important things. The first thing to note is the sample size (3308 games) which is gathered from 570 pro and semi-pro players. Unlike other survey sources such as opinion polls, this sampling is based on the recorded results from players playing at the highest level of StarCraft II, which means that while this is not predictive of the player-base at large, it is predictive of the meta to follow as these are all expert sources.
The second thing to note is what the leading and lagging races mean. This is a predictive tool to determine which race is most likely to win in a match and does not account for individual player strengths. For example, Serral (Zerg) is an incredibly good player and is therefore somewhat of an outlier, but his results will skew the race performance. In this period's sampling, the top 5 Zerg players are 12% more likely to win in a mean average battery of games against the other top 5 Terran players and top 5 Protoss players. This is why Zerg is the leading race. Respectively, the top 5 Protoss players are 15% more likely to lose in that same mean average battery. It is therefore NOT an indicator of game balance, but how the meta is shifting based on how the most dominant of each race is currently performing.
Lastly, the infographic also shows the statistical percentages of specific race match-ups based on win-losses between pros. As you can see, the game is moderately balanced, with Protoss 51.02% likely to win against Terran, Protoss 52.59% likely to win against Zerg, and Terran 48.28% likely to win against Zerg. All mirror match ups are exempted because the only difference there would be a difference in player skill.
Based on those results, Zerg is currently the strongest race as evidenced by the percentage of numerical wins and superior performance. Now before you start sharpening pitchforks, remember: the balance patch only happened two weeks ago, and it takes time for players to adjust. The Zerg player population is also the largest, so it's expected that they would have the most number of wins so you can't just use a simple tally to make a judgment. Map choices also factor into this. Based on these numbers, the game is currently headed in a balanced direction as the win/loss rate is roughly 50%. Now granted, PvZ is approximately 3% more in Protoss' favor and TvZ 2% more in Zerg's favor, but this is within the realm of statistical error as this is only the first sampling. If the results continue to be biased in numerous successive periods, however, then there might be a game imbalance that needs to be rectified.
And that's it! Analyzing and understanding statistics is easy. Tune in again in two weeks to see what's happening in the meta.